Constant critiquing is a pillar of reformism as humans and societies evolve gradually, former President Mohammad Khatami told a host of young members of the National Trust Party on Saturday. The following is a partial translation of a report the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) filed on the comments of the former president on reforms, moderation, openness and acceptance of critical views:
Failure to keep up with the times causes enormous damage. One can be progressive and at the same time study past developments and draw an object lesson from what has happened in the past.
If we hold on to the past and fail to move forward, our country and the establishment will sustain tremendous losses. The tension that was created in the aftermath of the 2009 [presidential elections] hurt our society to a great extent. […] The massive losses we have suffered have their roots in remaining fixated on the past and failing to move forward.
Reforms are not limited to a single party or group; they are a continuation of a long historic process that, God willing, will continue into the future.
For a trend to turn into a prevailing discourse, the historic, social and psychological stage should be set. For instance, reforms are a discourse that goes back to the pre-Constitutional era. Although there are differences over details, reforms continue to be part of the post-revolution trend. […]
Only when a society accepts parties, can it have energized partisan activities. In other words, everyone should accept our democracy is in line with Islam and parties are an integral part of such democracy. […]
We need to reach a consensus that the most appropriate form of government is a democracy. That doesn’t mean that democracy is free of faults, rather, it is the most useful and least costly form of governance. In a society with such a magnificent culture and past, one cannot expect a democracy incompatible with the faith of citizens.
Freedom of thought, expression and assembly are requirements of democracy. Civil institutions act as a go-between in state-public relations. […]
Today certain groups talk about the Islamic caliphate in the name of Islam, whereas the late Imam Khomeini championed a system of which republicanism was an essential part. Human societies have gone through many stages before developing the ability to digest democracy.
The yardstick here is democracy and self-determination which are the core principles of the Constitution. […]
Self-determination means that people elect their rulers and the government which represents people is accountable to them. An Islam from which our revolution has emerged differs from the Islam which is in power in other places. […] By the Islamic Republic we mean an Islam which conforms to republicanism and people’s right to self-determination.
Those who stand up for the integrity of Islam and the revolution and those who safeguard the interests of our nation should say, loud and clear, that Iranians are no ISIL, no Taliban and do not make superficial interpretations of Islamic rules. Islamic values and rules, especially those which have been underlined by God and the Prophet, should take hold in society. Justice is one of those rules. It does not simply cover economic justice or a charity economy.
Recognition of people’s right to self-determination and efforts to pave the way for this right to be exercised are the core principles of justice. […]
Ethics is another yardstick. Lack of morality is clearly evident in today’s international relations. The question of human rights is played up where the interests of some are at risk; they resort to anything and go on the offensive. Conversely, they tolerate gross human rights breaches and lend support to the rights violators. This is a jarring example of unethical conduct.
It is not a good practice that occupation and force are given legitimacy. What is our problem with Israel today? […]
It is politically incorrect for the usurper to be recognized as legitimate thanks to the occupation, oppression and displacement of people. During my presidency, I floated the idea of a referendum that would have allowed everyone living in occupied and Palestinian territories including Jews, Muslims and Christians to cast one vote.
We have no bones to pick with Jews. On the contrary our religions have a lot in common. Anti-Semitism has no place in the history of Iran and Islam. Of course, there have been oppressive governments which have trampled the rights of Muslims, Jews and followers of other religions. This has nothing to do with Islam and Islamic culture.
Zionism does not represent Judaism; rather it’s a dangerous political and racial movement. […]
We are in favor of an Islamic republic in which justice and morality prevail, one in which rulers are fair, one which urges the public to behave justly and promote morality and fairness. We need to reveal our nature to make it known to everybody who we really are. We need to talk among ourselves. […]
As part of this system, we support interaction as we maintain our own identity. One would lose their identity if they uttered something against their beliefs. This is not called interaction, and no fair person would do that.
We need to interact and set aside our differences. Every Iranian should accept that those who view the Constitution as a national convention are Iranians even if they do not approve of the charter a hundred percent. Such an attitude will help solve many of our problems.
Our Constitution is not a disposable item. It is a momentous legacy of our revolution. We need to place it at the center of our interactions. It well-defines the structure of the establishment. Today critiquing the establishment is the best form of promoting virtue and preventing vice.
Our system is popular, revolutionary and Islamic. We all believe in it, but criticizing its components is a necessity of the reformist approach.
Within the reformist camp, radicalism is a possibility just like any other movement. […] Radicalism is unacceptable when and where it is practiced. It brings about moral destruction and deals a blow to human and material resources. It turns opportunities into threats. We do not welcome tensions, but we protect our interests even if we have to risk our lives. We never carry out the first strike. We need to find common ground even with our enemies. We need to get rid of these costly hostilities. Of course, if someone wants to bully us, we will make a firm stance.
Détente and dialogue among civilizations are examples of moderation. Economic moderation is achievable when development is encouraged with an eye to social justice. […]
Moderation is a human, logical and Islamic method. Moderation is found where we can accommodate others. It is not a question of “I” alone. “We” is what matters. We have differences, but we have to stand alongside each other as we develop a mutual understanding. It needs a method of moderation, not one of violence and repulsion. […]